Moreover, some of the more powerful “moderate” voices, i.e., voices which counsel a rejection of both parties, began presenting genuinely radical criticisms of the entire American regime, often from a religious angle. I am thinking here especially of our friend Patrick Deneen–read his latest here–, of the “radical orthodoxy” theologians, etc. Conservatives have had little effective answer to these voices about the spiritual ravages of modern commerce and technology, especially as the concrete social consequences of these (vanishing middle-class, birth dearth, skill-famine, etc,) came more and more undeniably into view.
How can a conservative reply to the accusation that liberal politics and economics (democracy and capitalism) are spiritually debilitating? While we’re at it, how does a Marxist respond to the observation that capitalism produces gross inequalities of wealth, and how does a monarchist answer the charge that democratic polities always fall prey to demagogy? The American misuse of political labels can lead to some dicey conundrums.
Actually, there are many sound observations in the linked post. One can see it as a part of the salutary loss of faith in the American creed that we see slowly unfolding at First Things. Scott has some appropriately critical things to say about capitalism, and even some sobering things to say about democracy. No doubt the writers at First Things still have far to go. The post begins with an odd claim that America and the world are suffering from a loss of faith in democracy. I wish I saw some evidence of such a happy development–I’m surprised that someone calling himself a conservative would find it discouraging. Scott’s impression that America is becoming more polarized and ungovernable is understandable given the government shutdown. Nevertheless, from the broader perspective, what is really striking is how little dissension we are seeing among the people even as the foundation of our civilization, the patriarchal family, is being attacked and destroyed before our eyes. Against this assault on human nature and religion, what can stand. Certainly not
A vision of an America united around liberty, racial integration, technological progress, widely-enjoyed economic opportunities and prosperity, and the defense of democracy around the world, and more deeply, around the values of the Founders and the Bible…
That’s already Jacobinism, just waiting to be shown its logical endpoint.
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